BRAHMS logo960.png

The intuitive, scalable and powerful management
system for any natural history collection



Bringing your data together
Transfering data from v7 to v8
Data store and scalability
Context sensitive menus and toolbars
Spreadheets and forms
Opening and linking multiple tables
Explore, query, filter
Sorting records
Column summaries
Design your own tree views
Calculated fields
Module specific tools
Editing data
Descriptive text for taxa
Adding literature
Tagging records
Dynamic web links

Sample applications

Managing natural history collections
Taxonomic research
Botanic gardens and living collections
Seed banks
Samples and surveys
Publishing online

The list of topics is gradually being extended.

Bringing your data together

For collection managers in museums, botanic gardens, seed banks and those undertaking taxonomy and biogeographic studies, BRAHMS helps integrate your data for collection management and research, increasing outputs and productivity.


Transfering data from v7 to v8

All data stored in v7 can be transferred to v8 using the Admin function provided in the latest versions of v7. The procedure creates a sequence of XML text files in a designated folder - ready for the v8 import function. Guidelines are provided for this in v7. As part of this process, detailed checks are carried out on your v7 database to ensure there are no data integrity errors.


The export process transfers all data from v7 including your link file data and all track changes. All v7 primary and foreign keys are replaced by GUIDs.

Data store and scalability


BRAHMS is delivered with an SQLite database sample - no additional installation needed. You can create your own personal SQLite databases or connect BRAHMS to PostgreSQL or MS SQL Server, the preferred solutions for larger institutional and regional networked databases.


BRAHMS is easily connected to different data stores. In this example, using the System option to Manage Data Sources, the data store is set to a MSSQL Data Provider where a database (catalogue) oxforduniversityherbaria2018 has been created.


Databases are scalable to any size. Record numbers per table are displayed on the grid tools tab.


National herbarium of the Netherlands, the largest BRAHMS project storing over 4 million specimens and images. Visit the Naturalis database online.



BRAHMS v8 is fully international with respect to the interface and the storage of data. Translatable resources files are used to manage all interface components. Variable formatting (date, time, numbers, currency, etc.) and other processing features are language independent. Data storage is Unicode - no restriction on the character data stored across languages.


New languages are easily added on request by our adding a new language column to the v8 text resource file. This can be translated locally and then returned to the BRAHMS project to update the system.

Context sensitive menus and toolbars

Context sensitive ribbon toolbars similar to those used in Microsoft Office applications, offer all the features that long term v7 users have voted for. These include record tagging, two step deletion, zoom, column summaries and column selection. They also make BRAHMS v8 intuitive - easy to learn and use.


Some example ribbon menu toolbars.

Spreadheets and forms

By default, BRAHMS uses versatile data grids with context sensitive toolbar options to locate, select, sort, query and analyze your data.


A typical data grid with associated toolbar options. Data grids provide a powerful way to view and explore your data with options to tag, sort, analyse, calculate, query, export and report.


Data can be viewed and edited using grids or forms. Forms can be resized, docked or dragged to separate monitors.


Forms can include calculated summaries, here, a quick list of botanical records for the current species with a summary of collection details.

Opening and linking multiple tables

You can open as many tables as you wish at the same time. Table docking can be arranged as needed - and if you are fortunate to have multiple monitors, you can make use of these. Where tables are related, for example, [Family -> Genus -> Species -> Collection event -> Specimen] or ... [Species -> Garden Accession -> Garden Plant -> Plant Events], you can relate these tables to dynamically update as you select records on your data grids. This also applies to maps and extenal weblinks.


You can open multiple tables and features at the same time. In this example, the family, genus, species, garden accession and garden plant tables are opened, linked and dynamically update as you browse.


Maps and web pages update as you move through your records.


Explore, query, filter

BRAHMS v8 includes comprehensive search functionality. You can quickly filter to the value in any cell, adding further cell value filters using the Selection and +Selection toolbar options. Using the main Query tool form, you can design and save your own queries. These queries, which generate visible SQL commands, can mix and match fields of any type. Column summaries and Tree Views provide additional mechanism to quickly locate and query your data.


Using the Selection toolbar, quickly set a filter on the current cell value, adding further filter selections using +Selection. In this example, Araucariaceae and Papua New Guinea have been selected.


Using the main query form, build complex queries using data fields of any type. Queries can be selectively enabled and / or saved for future use.


Here show a living collections example with several fields selected including 'Needs a label'. Frequently used command combinations can be named and saved.


Sorting records

The ability to sort records, vital for reporting, is also useful to simply locate records and to find errors. Tables can be sorted on single or multiple columns by clicking and shift-clicking on the headers. Complex sorts are carried out and saved using the sorting tool.


Data in all tables can be sorted using single or multiple fields in ascending or descending order. Shift+click headers to combine columns.


Using the sort form, any combination of character, numeric, date and logical field can be selected to sort your records. Complex commands can be named and saved for future use.

Column summaries

Column summaries are a powerful way to list all the different values in the current column. Moving to a different column updates the summary. Furthermore, you can use the column summary tool to quick filter on one or more the listed values.


The simple use of the column summary function to total up the number of collection events per month.


Column summaries can be opened with other features such as maps - here the map is updated to reflect the two selected values.

Design your own tree views

Tree Views provide an excellent way to locate, explore and filter data as well as tracking down spelling errors. The Tree View designer allows you to create and save your own views with up to 10 hierarchical levels, as many as you need per table. Once opened, you can then use the locate and filter options offered, for example 'filter on selection' when you click on any tree level.


You can design and save your own tree views for each table.


This example shows a single level view to explore by country. With 'Filter on selection' selected, clicking on a tree view entry filters to that value and updates any linked data, in this case, the map.


A tree View with 3 levels. Tree View windows can be docked to suit.


A example view for botanic garden events, with the plant events organised by group.

Calculated Fields

Many tables have one or more calculated fields. These are handy fields that provide a range of numeric totals and calculated text strings. Examples are to total up the number of images or documents per record; the number of collections made by different collectors; and the number of genera and species per family. Calculated fields have multiple uses with viewing, reporting and error checking, as well as simply knowing what's in your database.


Here a field view has been created to show some of the calculated fields in the main species file. All calculated fields are updated using the Recalculate option. In this example, the table has a descending sort on the number of living plant records linked to each species.


An example showing some calculated fields in the main family table.

Module specific tools

Module specific data processing tools help with many different tasks, for example, checking data quality and editing records in batches.


An example data processing tool, checking for possible spelling errors in the main species file

Editing data

All data editing is initiated using the Edit toolbar. Context sensitive editing applies throughout BRAHMS. Thus if you are in a date field, a date editor is used while with map points, the map point editor. All changes are tracked and can be reversed in steps.


Context specific data editors are available to change your data, the example here for a map point.


Here editing the genus name in the main species table.


Changes to your data are tracked and can be reversed using the Undo option.


All additions, deletions and updates are registered in a central Edit History file, here filtered to show Updates and, taking advantage of the system-wide column summry tool, showing the number of updates per table.

Descriptive text for taxa

You can store descriptive text for all taxa levels, defiining as many text categories as you need. For example, you may want to store details of recommended seed germination procedures at the species level, notes on species hardiness or preferred water requirement or sun tolerance, perhaps a technical description of a genus. All these texts are stored in a central table and can be viewed/edited there or when viewing the respective taxa records themselves.


All descriptions are held in a single table, here with a column summary showing the numbers of entries per text category.


Descriptive texts can be added at all taxa levels and displayed from the main taxa files. Text categories can be defined as needed.


You can add literature references to the main literature table, linking these to any record in your database. Typically, links will be to species but you may want to store reference entries for people, genera, seed collections, plants, etc.


An example list of literature references with a filter on 'magnolia'. A column summary is displayed for the literature category.



Export data to Excel or CSV formats respecting the sort order and visible column selection. Additional and export options are being added.

Tagging records

By tagging a record, you add a character or a number to the TAG field. Tagging opens up numerous options for subsequent record selections, processing and analysis. A simple example would be to tag a selection of records manually or using a function - and then when mapping, restrict to tagged. Tagged records are dynamically coloured.


Tagging is used throughout BRAHMS for record selection, querying, grouping records and more.



Mapping options include dynamic links to the in-built ArcGIS and externally, by passing data to ArcGIS, Google Earth, DIVA, QGIS and GeoCAT. Any data with map references (collection events, botanic garden plants, etc.) can be mapped.

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Map options are selected from the Maps toolbar which is enabled when mapping data are available.

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ArcGIS is integrated with v8 and requires no installation. Dynamic links between grid and map allow point highlighting.

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Useful mapping functions are being added. one example is caclulating the Extent of Occurence (EOO).

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Mapping plants in a botanic garden. Here, the map is opened with a treeview used to filter to garden areas.


Combining maps with the query tool. The yellow point represents the current record. Clicking on any map point locates the grid record, a great way to pin down map errors.

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An example map connection to GeoCAT for conservation assessments.

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ArcGIS map opened with a data grid, tree view and google images.


BRAHMS online includes features to map richness and diversity with different scales and themes. One example is the conifer database published on The red areas have the highest numbers of different taxa.


Mapping wild origin sites of seed accessions using a tree view to filter on seed supplier."


Combining maps and images online.


Images can be linked to any record in BRAHMS and you can you can link multiple images to the same record. All your images are listed in the central images table with their full pathname or URL. Images can be viewed from the main file and/or wherever they are linked. Various options are provided to link images and you can also drag drop images to the image viewer. Read more about managing images in BRAHMS.


Images of different categories can be published online. Visit the Flora of Namibia online.


Images are easily dragged to the image viewer and stored in your central images library where they can be further organised and managed.


Viewing images from the main image library.


Viewing images linked to specimens in the main specimen file.


The image viewer has various handyfunctions including zoom and copy.

Web links


Dynamic links to external websites. Web pages are updated as you scroll through your data.


Opening multiple websites.

Natural history collections

BRAHMS v8 has been developed to store all categories of natural history collection. Above family, taxa levels including Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order and Suborder are provided as standard higher classification fields. However, depending on the collections you are managing, you can define as many new taxonomic ranks as required, both above and below family level (superfamily, subfamily, tribe, subtribe, etc.). Read more about using BRAHMS for museum management.




BRAHMS v8 has been developed to store all categories of natural history collection.

Taxonomic research

While some projects require only a simple list of species names, others assemble comprehensive details about each name as required for different types of research publication. In this respect, BRAHMS manages all details of nomenclature for taxonomic research. The ability to select, format and publish taxonomic information for different purposes, including online, is a key BRAHMS priority. Read more about using BRAHMS for taxonomic research.


A comprehensive online resource for the Papaya family with full nomenclature, imaged and geo-referenced specimens, species descriptions, keys and references. Visit the e-monograph.

Botanic gardens and living collections

The BRAHMS living collections module manages data and images for botanic gardens, arboreta and other horticultural projects. The module uses all the standard BRAHMS features to edit, query, report, map, export and publish online with additional features to manage garden accessions and plants. As living collections data are fully integrated within BRAHMS, it becomes possible to develop a comprehensive system for both curation and research. Read more about managing living collections in BRAHMS.


The Living Collections module in BRAHMS has been developed collabortatively with The Oxford Botanic Garden and The Morton Arboretum, Illinois.


The Morton Arboretum database brings together data about their garden plants and herbarium vouchers. Here, zooming in online to a selection of their Malus collection. Visit the Morton Arboretum Malus collection.

Seed banks

The seed module, developed collaboratively with the Millennium Seed Bank at RBG Kew, has broad curation and research applications for projects who collect, store, test and distribute seed. Seed accession and test data, related vouchers and images are all integrated and can be published online. Read more about the seed bank module in BRAHMS.


The Millennium Seed Bank, the world’s largest seed banking project, uses BRAHMS to bring together seed accession and test data from some 53 countries and 123 organisations. Visit the Data Warehouse.

Samples and surveys

The survey module manages data from temporary and permanent plots which may be small, irregularly shaped survey sites or industrial scale forest grid blocks. The simplest samples may only register species presence. More complex surveys may include many more measurements. For example, a forest survey may add data about trees - tree numbers with their provisional identification, diameter, height, stem form, field images, specimen vouchers and more, depending on the research objectives. Plot data, combined with other data stored in BRAHMS, can be used for diversity and bio-quality analysis. Read more about using the sample and survey module in BRAHMS.


Use survey data to calculate meaningful local richness, diversity and bioquality indices.

Publishing online

BRAHMS online allows you to design websites and manage your data and images online for curation and/or research use. Websites can be created for herbaria; botanic gardens; seed banks; taxonomic groups; geographic areas; images, paintings and illustrations; or any combination of these. Specialist websites can also be created, for example, websites for historical collections or all collections of a particular collector. Read more about publishing online from BRAHMS.


The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) brings together species and collection data for southern Africa. Visit the SANBI database online.